Vandals use figures in historic stained glass for ‘target practice’ in attack on Lincolnshire church

St Helen's Church in Little Cawthorpe, Lincolnshire has been the target of vandals in a senseless attack on its stained glass.

It is believed that vandals entered the church before Easter and used carefully aimed projectiles that have fractured specific areas of the glass, mainly several heads and faces of the depicted human figures and animals. Examination of the centres of impact which are circular and measure about 3mm-5mm in diameter would suggest an airgun pellet or small stone fired by a catapult. Some of the damage is at a height too great to have been attacked from ground level except with some kind of long implement using exceptional force.

Volunteer and local resident Helen Poppleton says: When I discovered the damage, I couldn’t actually believe what had happened. As I found more damaged windows, the disbelief turned in to anger and then sadness. I am still at a loss to understand how someone could willfully and purposefully damage something that was created by craftsmen over 160 years ago. Little Cawthorpe is a tiny rural village and St Helens Church is our only community building. We are proud of our church and the community is shocked and saddened by what has happened.”

Judith Patrick, Head of North Region, CCT says: “We are devastated by the mindless vandalism of these irreplaceable stained glass windows. This crime marks a significant loss of our shared heritage as the church is an important public building and a repository of history and art.”

© Graham White

The Victorian stained glass was painstakingly created by artists and craftsmen from Lavers, Barraud and

Westlake and was installed between 1860-1890. The south windows depict Christ and the Doctors and the Presentation in the Temple. The impressive west window, donated by Lysimachus Parker who died in 1860, shows Noah's Ark, the Baptism of Christ and the Crossing of the Red Sea.

CCT’s conservation team are inspecting the damage and specialist stained glass experts will be brought in to evaluate the best way to repair the damage. This will likely cost upwards of £4000.

CCT are appealing for donations towards repair of the stained glass:

  • To donate £5 please text LCA to 70970
  • To donate £10 please text LCA to 70191

The incident has been reported to Lincolnshire Police. If anyone has information, please get in touch with the police, quoting crime reference number: 21000175385